Yakima County Wants To Ban Squatters

<p>No Camping Sign</p>

No Camping Sign

Homeless people in Yakima County may be running out of places to stay at night.

We met Jim Janssen today.

Janssen lives in Yakima, and always makes an effort take his dogs out for a walk at Sarg Hubbard Park.

Janssen says he's seen homeless people camping out around the park, and while he has no problems with them, he does think they need to be removed.

"I've never been bothered, but I'm not saying that sometimes young women walking down here -- if their situation is right, they could be bothered," said Janssen.

In a joint effort, the Yakima Greenway Foundation and Yakima County are working to ban camping on county property.

The county has drafted an ordinance for Tuesday's meeting -- if approved, it would make it a crime for people to stay overnight in the county-owned park areas.

The Greenway Foundation says over the past few months, it has received numerous complaints about the people living in the area, and the piles of trash left behind.

And it was about two months ago when firefighters were called out to two seperate fires in the Harlan Landing area, caused by campfires. And that's when the Greenway Foundation and the county said 'something needed to be done.'

"The limits on camping is to protect both the resources of the Greenway; the trees, the wildlife, the pathway itself, and the people who use it," said Greenway Board President Sarah Wixson, "It's a safety issue and an environmental issue."

Janssen says even though he supports the proposed ordinance, he hopes it will benefit the homeless in the long run.

"If they could get into a homeless shelter, they would be far better off healthwise," he said, "It can't be a healthy element to live out next to the river, or in wooded area at any time of the year."

We contacted the Yakima County Commissioners for a comment on the proposed ordinance, but they declined.

Some of the homeless we've spoken to previously say they prefer to camp out and not stay in shelters because the shelters have too many rules.